memories,  my muse

august nostalgia

Sometimes I dream outfits so vivid and real that I am certain I have them in my closet. It’s never the case. This time I had a vivid dream of a burgundy blazer over a burnt orange top, paired with a plaid kilt in mustard yellow, charcoal grey and burgundy. It was so vivid I HAD to draw it, even though I haven’t drawn in over 10 years. (And never mind that I can’t draw feet, ok?)*

I have always loved August. I don’t know why exactly, I think it’s the light. August is always golden and warm. It’s not quite autumn but you know it’s on the way. Magazines and circulars are full of Back to School supplies and clothes and I used to love – LOVE! – when my August edition of YM magazine (and sometimes Seventeen) would arrive and I would hungrily look through the pages mentally shopping for my new clothes. The clothes that would make a New Me come the start of school at the end of the month.

A New Me never happened, of course. But there’s something hopeful and magical about getting new clothes at the start of a school year that makes you feel new. Even though once you walk through the doors into the school halls you always walk and everything stays the same, there’s something in the air. Everything smells new. Everything feels new. Everyone has new clothes, school bags, pencils, pens, locker decor.

Man, I miss locker decor. They have some awesome things now to put inside your locker. But I loved having my magnetic mirror, and collages of boy bands, friends and ads from magazines that made my day dreams soar. (What was it about Love’s Baby Soft perfume that made everything feel possible?! Also, I totally loved that particular ad.) Sometimes I really wish I had a locker at work. I don’t have an office or anywhere to hang my coat, because I have a stupid open concept thing, but a locker would be awesome. They make wall paper for the inside of your locker now. LOCKER WALL PAPER, PEOPLE!

I have always said that August and September mark a New Year to me way more than January 1st does. A lot of this stems from how much of an emotional impact my school years hold on me and the rest happens to be because I went from being a student to working in a school environment so I have pretty much been living an Academic Year since 1980. To me the year always goes from August – July.

Ah, August. Golden light, softer focus, stores chalk full of sweaters, wool skirts and scarves. Burgundy, gold, plum, navy blue, charcoal grey. Plaid. These are the colours of August in my mind. These are the colours that fill me up with anticipation of new things to come. These are the colours that swirl around and around behind my eyelids when I close my eyes at night. These colours smell crisp and clean. Safe. Solid.

The days are shorter and this makes me sad. The sun sets earlier and earlier but everything is enveloped in a warm, golden hue. I don’t even like the colour gold but I do in August. It’s thick and deep like honey. It’s sweet.

It’s hope.

I am often sad about the fact that I don’t really get to participate in Back to School sales now. I don’t go through school supplies like I used to. I don’t really need a pencil case anymore and I don’t need new notebooks or pens. I would LIKE them, yes. But I do not require them to go through my day-to-day business.

But my need to draw the outfit I dreamed the other night was SO STRONG it had me searching through boxes for my old pencil crayons and when I determined that I didn’t have them anymore (well, I have some stubs of colours I never used very often) I NEEDED to go out and BUY PENCIL CRAYONS NOW! OMG! So I was about to hop in the car all by my lonesome, but Shawn came with me at the last minute. Something about him not trusting me on my own in the office supply store. I haven’t a clue what that’s all about. *cough*

And we got there and the parking lot was packed. PACKED. And I realized… we were out there, at Bureau En Gros (Staples to the rest of North America) and it was 4:30 pm. On a Monday. On the Eve of Back to School week. Oops. One forgets things like date and time when one is on vacation and completely oblivious to what the heck day it is.

We braved the crowds of screaming babies and harried parents and I got my pencil crayons. And blank paper. And a binder to put the paper in, like I used to have when I was a teenager and used to draw all the time. And I bought an eraser. And some $1 folders for the office and it was whimsical and magical and everything I ever wanted.

I love the smell of new school supplies in the evening, or morning. Or any time, really.

I got my supplies and I came home and went right to the back yard, where I spilled pencil crayons all over the table, opened up my binder and drew for the first time in YEARS. I used to draw all the time. I used to want to make my own clothes – but I am useless with a sewing machine. I used to write, sing, draw. I used to CREATE. I don’t create anymore. Half the time I think of blog posts in the middle of the night as I am trying to sleep. I need to create more. So I followed the impulse, spent money we don’t actually have to spend on things I didn’t technically need, but my soul needed them. The gnawing feeling of HAVING to draw this blazer outfit was making my entire body vibrate. I needed to do this to calm my nerves. To humour the muse who abandoned me so long ago, but occasionally comes back violently and sudden. I have to listen to her because she won’t quiet down until I do.

And August makes me feel things. So many, many things. Vivid things. In warm, honey-golden waves. I need to listen to August because it’s a month of rebirth for my entire being. I even bought a paper agenda for this year. I am embracing the school kid I hated myself for being back then. I am loving her now.

August through July, yo! Fo’eva.

I need to tap into all that raw energy I used to exude when I was in high school and college. I need to tap into it without awakening the Major Depression Beast that lurks deep inside me. I often worry the energy and creativity was completely woven into the Depression but I want to try to pry them apart. I miss the creative. It’s like a black hole within me that sucks all the magic and wonder from everything and I am left with only a husk of cynicism and find no joy in anything.

August makes me want to create and battle my demons to save my muse and allow her to embrace the golden, burning ember days of August. I wish I could bottle that feeling and smell that those three little words, “Back to School” bring out in me. I wish I could hold on to it all year. Sort of like the whimsy of Christmas. I can’t. I know this, because I have tried.

But this August? This August I will allow parts of me to emerge that have been dormant for too long. This August I will embrace the hope and anticipation that I would feel from browsing those pages of YM magazine. I, too, am going back to school in a way. Both through work and by taking the third course in my Certificate program (OMG, class starts on Sept. 7! I am so not ready to give up my free time again.)

I will face this New Year with bravery and passion and I will allow myself to create and hope and dream and possibly, just possibly, by a really cute new sweater or blazer. Likely in burgundy.

*I have also been envisioning a navy blue dress with white anchors all over it and a bright red belt. I don’t know why. I don’t normally want to wear dresses and never with sailor motif. But, here I am. Wanting a dress with anchors all over it. Someone needs to make me these things.


  • sassymonkey

    I remember the first year I didn’t go back to school and wasn’t involved in back to school stuff at all. In other words, after I moved to Toronto. It was SO WEIRD.

    I fulfilled my need to do back to school shopping by filling a backpack with supplies to drop off to a local charity. It was SO. MUCH. FUN.

  • Mummy

    Yes!! Let your creative side flow! I like your drawings. And I know what you mean about vivid dreams. Sometimes they are so vivid that I don’t even know whether it was a dream or reality.

    Love you.

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